That Time I Changed My Life

Eight years ago today, I changed my life.

Like most life-changing days, it was a day that started like any other.

I walked into the New York Sports Club on Wall Street to meet with my trainer. We’d had a few sessions before, and he was…fine.

But on this particular day, he didn’t show up. I was disappointed and dejected. After so many false starts, I was trying so hard to really make a change in my life and paying this man to help, and he still couldn’t show up — literally and figuratively. I sat, dejected, waiting for him, until a trainer named Joel walked over to me. “Hey, I see your trainer didn’t show up. I have another client right now but I’d love to train you. If you two work out together right now, I’ll give you a free session.”

He gave us a great session, and of course, by the end of that hour, I was telling Joel I wanted to work out with him instead. I could tell, it was more than a job for him. He really believed in his clients and wanted to help empower them to change their lives. Which is exactly what I needed at the time.


At the time, I weighed in at 189. My high school best friend, Mary Beth, was getting married in Aruba that summer, and I was fed up with being the fat one. But…how much weight did I have to lose? Like…30 pounds? Joel said he thought I needed to lose 50 — and more importantly — that he thought I could

I showed up, and I put in the work, despite feeling embarassed at being overweight and struggling through exercises that were surely easy for everyone else. I embraced the crazy nutrition guidelines he gave me.

And quickly, the weight started coming off. By Mary Beth’s wedding in August, I’d lost 35 pounds.

Aruba Preppy Runner

By March 2010, I’d lost my 50 pounds.

NYJL Winter Ball 2010

Since then, I’ve run 6 marathons, about 30 halfs, some triathlons.

But even though I am so proud of those accomplishments, I’m even more proud of what getting healthy has taught me.

To take care of myself — including both mental and spiritual health. To want more for myself — and go after it — including an incredibly fulfilling job at a company I really believe in. 

It’s taught me that the people I include in my life are as important as the kale I put in my body, the weights I lift or the miles I run.

I’m so glad I walked into that gym eight years ago and met Joel — it truly altered the course of my life. If you’re where I was eight years ago on any level, I want you to know it’s possible. You really do have it within you.

6 comments on “That Time I Changed My Life

  1. katie

    thank you for being such a positive influence. i’ve gotten 10 lbs heavier than you, and i’m 5’3″ which is most likely shorter than you. I’ll eventually get down to that 50 lbs later, but for now I just stay as active as possible and as mentally healthy as possible. thank you for sharing your story and giving me the confidence to move forward.

  2. Nadia

    Yay for “Joel”! He sounds awesome! I have also had a few people who have made a huge difference in my fitness journey. I have a fantastic all-women’s boot camp instructor (been attending for 3 years now) who is incredibly inspiring. And more recently, I have joined a running group so now I have lots of running friends who I have learned so much from and can count on for anything. Generally, people who are working on better health and fitness are great people to surround yourself with!

    1. Theodora Blanchfield Post author

      @Nadia: People working on better health and fitness are happier people too! Hence why I love my job so much too 🙂 And god, I’ve had so many amazing people on my fitness journey. My current trainer, Leanne, deserves a post, too! (I actually just wrote down a whole bunch of “Lessons from Leanne.”)

  3. Nicole

    congratulations!! you’ve kept up the new lifestyle for 8 years?? that’s incredible. thanks for sharing your story. (I started reading your blog when you were already crushing races, so this was impressive to read!)

  4. tasha

    Great post! I love following this blog, it’s given me so much information on how to lose weight and great recipes to include into my diet program. I was always overweight until i found a program that’s been giving me good results, feel free to check out a review about it


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